reviewer Anastasia Miari
This year, the Volkshotel—the former headquarters of the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant—celebrates its first birthday in Amsterdam. Think theatrical performances in the bedrooms, a South African brass band, lobster brunches, and a local makers market—a birthday ‘festival,’ of sorts.
Located in East Amsterdam, right next to the up-and-coming De Pijp neighborhood, which is not unlike London’s Shoreditch, with its quirky cafés, teeming bars, and trendy residents, Volkshotel claims to be "a place for everyone." Their website describes the hotel as a spot "for single moms…stockbrokers and punk rockers…dandies and poets…dishwashers and underwater welders…biologists, night bloomers and artists." Based on just the hotel lobby, I would be inclined to agree on the dandies, poets, and artists front. The place is a hipster’s paradise.
The industrial space of the former newspaper tenant has been transformed since 2007, when the paper moved. The abandoned building then naturally became an attractive spot for a club, and so Canvas was born. On the seventh floor, with panoramic views of the city, the club became a popular hangout for the ‘in-crowd,’ and it was only last year that the entire industrial space was opened to the public again—as a hotel-cum-creative space.
Now Volkshotel is more than just a place for Amsterdam’s weekend tourists to rest their heads between canal tours and loitering in the red light district. It’s a creative hub shared by Amsterdam’s artists and freelancers. Architect Steven Steenbruggen has barely touched the 1960s exterior, and interior design studio Müller van Tol has maintained much of the building’s original industrial features. Add one-off furniture created by local designers and a regular rotation of Amsterdam-based artists’ work on display, and the place becomes a gallery—an exhibition, even—of the city’s humming cultural scene.
hotel name & website: Volkshotel, Amsterdam
who: Me, Myself, and I
when: May 2015
stay: Volkshotel definitely lives up to expectations, in that I expected it to be as hipster as the website implies. This is not a criticism because nothing here feels overly pretentious or forced.
There are nine special rooms designed by local artists, and I was lucky enough to be in one of those: the teasingly titled "Soixante-Neuf." A room designed for "mystery, sensuality and seduction" is perhaps not ideal for a business trip, but I was impressed by the raised bed that does not touch the reflective black floor, and the roll down projector offering Netflix streaming that you can watch from the bath tub (which is big enough to swim in, by the way.) The tub is also perfectly positioned by the huge glass window with stunning views across Amsterdam.
The lobby/co-working space, with additional private meeting rooms, is also an ideal place to work. There are power outlets at all of the desks and the space is quiet and relaxed without feeling austere, in a ‘no-phone-zone’ library kind of way. Props to whoever makes the delicious cake served up at the bar, too.
location: The hotel is only a ten minute bike ride from the center of the city. I walked the distance in twenty-five minutes and enjoyed weaving in and out of streets lined with narrow houses and pretty canal paths. De Pijp is becoming increasingly gentrified, with a lively bar scene that seems to heat up around 9pm. Bar Bukowski was my favorite find, a short walk away from Volkshotel across from Oosterpark.
rooms: 172, including nine ‘special rooms’ designed by artists.
pool/gym/beach status: None of this, but there’s a sauna and three large hot tubs on the roof for hotel guests to use between 9am and 9pm. Panoramic views of the city before breakfast: advisable.
food situation (mini bar, restaurant, breakfast): yes – yes – yes!
Canvas doubles up as a restaurant and is open to all, not just hotel guests. I was taken aback by the number of families and diners of mixed ages at Canvas; it appears that the Dutch can enjoy a hipster hangout at any age.
Breakfast is a continental, pell-mell affair but I very much enjoyed being able to eat muesli, croissants, salami, gouda, a selection of fruit and delicious, freshly baked soda bread in one sitting. Having all of this every morning is not advisable, but cycling the streets of Amsterdam requires a hearty breakfast.
bar: The hotel lobby bar is frequented by locals, and is definitely a good spot to start the night. The basement of the hotel is also home to Doka, a not-so-secret cocktail bar that has stayed open until 7am. Perfect for a night-cap after partying in Canvas.
data (Wifi?): YES – and excellent.
vibes: Industrial, but warmly eclectic—the place is a hub of activity
kiddie agreeable: Yes, I did see a few kids but perhaps not best when club Canvas is in full swing over the weekend…
specialty: A collaborative space for visitors and locals alike, not just a place to sleep, but a place that cultivates and embraces community.
price scale: Totally reasonable. They say it’s a place for everyone, and price-wise, they’re doing the right things to make it so.